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‘They/Them’ Review: Slashing Out

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They/Them (★★☆☆☆), writer-director John Logan’s seemingly well-intentioned horror-thriller set at a queer conversion camp.Aided by the sunnily sinister setting, Logan does strike a properly foreboding atmosphere as a diverse group of teens arrive at Whistler Camp, all of them innocent but not entirely unsuspecting.Unlike the blissfully stupid sexpots who might populate a Friday the 13th movie, these young gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and nonbinary campers are wary and guarded from the moment they’re greeted by cultish camp leader Owen Whistler.In a canny bit of casting, Whistler is played by Kevin Bacon, who, of course, appeared as one of those dim sexpots in the original Friday the 13th.His character Jack famously died by having an arrow rammed through his throat as he lounged in bed smoking a post-coital joint.

No death scene in this film, pronounced “they-slash-them,” is nearly as chilling or memorable.But the film does zig where it might be expected to zag, with Owen surprising the campers and the audience by not coming off as a fire-breathing homophobe at first.In fact, Bacon lends the guy an approachable, congenial air that might lead some of these campers to let their guard down and really hear his message.“Only you can know what’s best for you,” Owen intones soothingly, adding, however, “we hope that through your time here, you will discover a gender-normative lifestyle that is authentic to you.”Despite Owen’s pleasant tone, the intent belies the intolerance guiding him and his staff, which includes Owen’s wife, Cora (Carrie Preston), the camp therapist, and buff, angry former camper-turned-counselor Zane (Boone Platt).They’re also guided by cruelty, as becomes evident in Owen’s treatment of camper Alexandra (Quei.

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